Monday, September 26, 2016

September Popsugar Must Have Unboxing!

September Popsugar Must Have

Hellooo friends :) I'm back with another unboxing post! Maybe someday I'll get the courage to just do unboxing videos like everyone else...but today is not that day! :D Popsugar was super awesome and sent me their September box to try out, so let's do this!

This post contains affiliate links and is sponsored by Popsugar. I received this box for free in exchange for my honest opinion and sharing it on the interwebs. All opinions are my own. Any monetary income usually goes towards feeding my turtle.

The Popsugar Must Have Box is a monthly subscription service curated by the editors of the website, Popsugar. I can't really think of many words to explain what type of themed box this is, aside from, like "women's lifestyle box"...or something. They send you on-trend items for you to use and/or wear (last month subscribers got cute office supplies and a Baggu bag for back to school season - jealous!). While this doesn't exactly cater to my geekier hobbies, what I really like about the Popsugar Box is that everything they send are items that can (and usually will) actually be USED, rather than just sit around and look cute.

The first item I saw when opening the box (it was kinda hard to miss...) was this nice, big, wool hat from Jack + Lucy. Holding it, I thought it looked really nice and I could totally look cool and mysterious wearing it. Instead I looked more like Pharrell at the Grammy' that was too bad. I've seen pics of other ladies in the hat though, and they all look great. So it's not a bad hat, it just fits on my head funny (my family jokes about my little brother having a large head, now I'm wondering if he got it from me *cries*). This hat retails for $58 (woah), so the hat alone costs more than a one month subscription to this box.

Next was this Smith & Cult Lip Lacquer in the shade The Warning. At first I was like, "no way man, that's way too bold for me!" But I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. It's more like a really tinted lip gloss. So if you're like me, and like the look of red lips but are not brave enough to actually wear red lipstick - this is a great product for that. I was also a little wary because I stopped wearing lip gloss when I was, like, 15. It can be so sticky and lips aren't meant to look wet 24/7. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. The shine is more of a dewy, rather than glossy look. There is still a bit of stickiness, but it's really not that bad (but don't go making out with your boyfriend right after applying this, unless he's into that sort of thing I guess). I've been dealing with really dry lips lately (I don't know why??? not usually a problem I have) and this has been really nice for that as well. These retail for $22, which IMO is a bit steep for a lip gloss, but honestly I like it so much that I might get another next time I see a good sale or just feel like spending money that I shouldn't. The other color I have my eye on is called The Queen is Dead.

Smith & Cult Lip Lacquer The Warning

Honestly - I'm kinda over the whole gluten free fad. If you legit cannot eat gluten, then you get a pass (also this must be an exciting year for you), but if you don't have a gluten allergy then there is NO REASON for you to not eat gluten. Ok? Ok. Anyway, next up was Gluten Free Bites in the flavor Dark Chocolate Coconut. They claim to be gluten free, non-GMO, vegan, soy free, AND dairy free. So I was like, "well what's left then???" These taste ok-ish, but I wouldn't buy them myself. They are sort of like truffles, but the texture is a bit dry. I only have one friend that is gluten free, and I tried giving these to her, but she's allergic to coconut -_- These retail for $4.99.

This NCLA Mani E.R. Tool Kit is probably what I'll get the most use out of. I usually keep my nails long, so they get banged up on things ALL THE TIME. Having nail tools handy will be super helpful. The tools are good quality, too! I used to have a kit that was similar to this, but the case had a little snap thing to close it (rather than a zipper all the way around, like this one) and it was always getting caught on things! This one is a huge upgrade. I also really like the bright red case :) This retails for $16.

I was surprised to get two full sized beauty products in one box, (I forgot to mention, the lip gloss is full size!) the second being this Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask. My hair isn't actually damaged (#blessed) so this isn't exactly targeted towards me, but I'm going to try it soon and I bet it will make my hair crazy soft. I'll try to report back on that later. Currently all I can say is that it smells like vanilla. This 8oz tub retails for $20.

Admittedly I was not super excited about this F’lint Lint Roller at first glance. The packaging is cool, but like, a lint roller? I don't normally buy lint rollers so I was kinda "meh" about it. However I've been living in black leggings this week (I will probably die wearing a pair of premium black leggings from Torrid, they are everything) and YES they get lint and other things all over them. I used to just brush it off, or pretend not to care, but I started using this lint roller instead and, yeah, it's pretty nifty. I also like that you can buy refills for it! Save the environment! Use less plastic! However the best part is that the lint roll part pops out of the tube like a light saber.

The Popsugar Must Have Box is $39.95 a month, which at first seems really steep for a subscription box. Buuut all together the items in this box retail for about $147 - so if you're interested in this type of thing then that's quite impressive and a really great deal! My favorite items from this are definitely the lip gloss and nail kit...but like I said I'm really excited to try the hair mask, too!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Summer Reading Round Up - Part 3

If you'd like to read Part 1 or Part 2 click here and here! Or if you don't feel like it I'll take a sec to recap :P This summer I took on the Summer Book Bingo hosted by My Life as a Teacup! If you've never played a book bingo, it's pretty simple. The bingo card will have a different type/genre of book in each square. Read the book in that square and you get to cross it off. Five books in a row makes a bingo! We started sometime in June, and ended on August 31st. In that time I was able to make 3 bingo's! Here's the third (and final) card I completed. Originally I planned to throw all the cards into one post, but then the Part 1 post got too long so here we are :P

Summer Book Bingo

Contemporary lit: When Life Hands you a Lemon, by Mike Hansen. This book was not as exciting as I'd hoped it would be! It's about this guy, Dan, who is taken hostage and he has to "confront his fears" and all that. But for a book about being taken hostage, it progresses really slow. A large part of the book focuses on Dan's personal struggles; he suffers from anxiety, among other things. I don't want to belittle anyone's problems (I have anxiety myself), but I just didn't connect with this. I can't really give you any examples without spoiling the story, though! Sorry :P
Rating: 👽 (1 sad alien)

Read in a day: Saga vol. 6, by  Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. As always, Saga is the best. If you haven't started this series yet, stop reading this post and go get it!!! I ended up reading this volume in a day, because when I ordered it from the library I didn't realize I already read the first couple issues from it on my e-reader...months ago >_>
Rating: 👽👽👽👽👽 (5 aliens)

Non-Fiction: The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor, by Robert Schnakenberg. If you're a huge Murray fan, or just want to learn more about him, you'll really enjoy this book. This book goes through the A to Z life of Bill Murray (like an encyclopedia). The format is interesting at first, but doesn't make it easy to reference later on if you're just interested in certain parts. For example all the parts of Bill Murray's early life are not grouped together. There's a lot of talk about his work in Wes Anderson movies, but they are not grouped together either. So the whole book flows a little weird when it's talking about one subject, to a different subject, then back to the first subject again.
Rating: 👽👽👽 (3 aliens)

Book you've been meaning to read: Funny Girl, by Nick Hornby. Nick Hornby is another one of my favorite authors! I've been wanting to read this book but I had some issues getting it from the library. It's set in the 1960's and is about a girl obsessed with I Love Lucy and wants to be a sitcom comedian. It wasn't my favorite of Hornby's books, but I still enjoyed it. His strength has always been writing strong characters (whether they're good people or not), and this book was just another example of that.
Rating: 👽👽👽👽 (4 aliens)

Graphic novel: Rat Queens vol. 3, by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Tamra Bonvillain and Tess Fowler. This volume was not as great as the first two, so that was a bummer. The art has also changed; and while I don't dislike it, having to get used to it was a little distracting. As for the story, that was a little lackluster as well. The gang is going through some struggles right now, and the story has always been at its best when the girls are working together as a team. I hope this arc wraps up in the next volume so the girls can start liking each other again :P
Rating: 👽👽👽 (3 aliens)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Summer Reading Round Up - Part 2

If you'd like to read Part 1 click here! If you don't feel like it I'll take a sec to recap. This summer I took on the Summer Book Bingo hosted by My Life as a Teacup! If you've never played a book bingo, it's pretty simple. The bingo card will have a different type/genre of book in each square. Read the book in that square and you get to cross it off. Five books in a row makes a bingo! We started sometime in June, and ended on August 31st. In that time I was able to make 3 bingo's! Here's the second card I completed. Originally I planned to throw all the cards into one post, but then Part 1 got too long so here we are :P

Summer Book Bingo Snorlax Plush

New release: My Best Friend's Exorcism, by Grady Hendrix. I loved this book! Grady Hendrix is also the author of Horrorstor, which I loved as well (and reviewed here). I was really excited to pick up his next book. It takes place in the 80's and is about best friend duo, Abby and Gretchen. After a strange night at their friends house, Gretchen is possessed by a demon, but Abby is the only one that believes it. It's like a fun mash up of Mean Girls and The Exorcist. Shortly after I read this, Grady Hendrix did a livestream on the Quirk Books Facebook page, where he talked about the book and shared some stuff about witchcraft and demonology from the 80's (he did a LOT of research!). At the end there was a giveaway and I won a copy of Horrorstor and some My Best Friend's Exorcism stickers!!! I haven't figured out where I want to use them yet, but I really like them. They have pink unicorns and pentagrams :O
Rating: 👽👽👽👽 (4 aliens)

Neil Gaiman: The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, by Neil Gaiman (duh) and Eddie Campbell. Hate to say it, but I was bored with this book. It's formatted as an adult picture book. I always love when adult books have pictures (and in this case, paintings), but I wasn't feeling them in this book. Just not my style, I guess. It's about a man and the guide he hires to take him up the mountains. That's about all I can say without spoiling anything! I guess that's why I couldn't find a book synopsis to post here :P
Rating: 👽👽 (2 aliens)

Read in a day: Stuff Every Geek Should Know, by Quirk Books. This is a collection of short essays, all written by Quirk Books authors and bloggers. It's not very long but was fun. Some of the essays included How to Photograph Your Books for Instagram, How to Find Friends Who Share Your Geek Passions, and Seven Awesome Female Heroes That Every Comic Book Geek Should Know About.
Rating: 👽👽👽 (3 aliens)

Mystery/Thriller: A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro. We can add this to the list of YA books I don't hate. I didn't love it, but it wasn't awful and was an enjoyable, easy read. It's basically a genderbent Sherlock Holmes reboot. Charlotte is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, Jamie is the great-great-great-grandson of John Watson, and they end up at a boarding school together. A student at the school is murdered, and Charlotte and Jamie are being framed for it so they work together to get to the bottom of things. Charlotte has inherited the detective skills along with the moody and grumpy temper. Jamie's kind of boring, to be honest. I like mysteries, so that part of the book was fun. There's very minimal romance, but there is some. Argh. Is it too much to ask to have a boy and girl as main characters and NOT have them fall in love?? Oh well.
Rating: 👽👽👽 (3 aliens)

This post is a bit shorter than the last, because I used the free space on my bingo card this time! Heheh. Part 3 coming up next!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Summer Reading Round Up - Part 1

Since one of my September goals was to start writing about books again, I thought I'd start with all the books I read this summer! This is just part one. I filled out three bingo cards (I'll explain those in a second), so each post will summarize the books from one card. Originally I planned to throw all the cards into one post, but then this post got too long so here we are :P

I'm starting to realize that I really like reading challenges. As long as they're not super intense - like I don't care for 24 hour readathons. So daunting! I know you're supposed to take breaks and all that, but honestly I don't think there's anything I'd even want to do for 24 hours. I get restless. But anyway.....summer always brings lots of great book challenges, since most of them last all summer. Way less pressure! This summer I took on the Summer Book Bingo hosted by My Life as a Teacup! If you've never played a book bingo, it's pretty simple. The bingo card will have a different type/genre of book in each square. Read the type of book in that square and you get to cross it off. Five squares in a row makes a bingo! We started sometime in June, and ended on August 31st. In that time I was able to make 3 bingo's! Here's the first first card I completed.

Summer Book Bingo

Contemporary literature: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. I wasn't in love with this book, but it was a fun and easy read (without being YA fluff) and had a new premise that I've never actually read/watched a million times before. Magical (sort of) monster fighting bartenders! After I finished this book I was inspired to learn more about mixing drinks.
Rating: 👽👽👽 (3 aliens)

Read in a day: The Big Needle by Ken Follett. This book was really bad, but I'm still glad I read it hahah. I collect used Ken Follett paperbacks, and at this point there's only a few that I don't have - OR SO I THOUGHT. It's not like they're rare or anything, but since I only buy them used it's just a luck of the draw sort of thing. Anyway, one night I was browsing the library bookstore and found this old, thin novella with his name on it, except I'd never even heard of the title. His books are usually pretty big, so the size also threw me off. On the cover it said it was a reprinting and was originally written under the name Symon Myles. What?! So I spent a whole ten cents on it and took it home to do some research. I learned that it was the first novel he ever wrote, but his agent convinced him to use a pen name because "you might want to write better books later." She was right. The book was bad (it's not even available in print anymore, even the reprinting that I found, so it was a lucky find!) but it was really interesting to see how his writing has evolved over time. It was inspiring in a way. He started off with this shitty pseudo James Bond novella, and now he's a best-selling, award winning author. We all have to start somewhere. In an interview he talks about how bad they are, and said "Looking back, they seem trashy and full of gratuitous sex and violence. But I was doing my best. Every one of my early books was the best book I could write at the time."
Rating: 👽👽 (2 aliens)

Non-fiction: The Rap Yearbook: The Most Important Rap Song From Every Year Since 1979, Discussed, Debated, and Deconstructed by Shea Serrano. This book was so much fun! I am not-so-secretly a huge fan of rap and hip-hop. The genres often get a bad rap (SEE WHAT I DID THERE TEEHEE) and are often stereotyped for just being about shooting people and boobs, which is really upsetting, because that just isn't true (not saying there aren't any songs about shooting people and boobs, but you get it). This book delves deep into what inspired iconic songs from each year. The illustrations are also great, with lots of silly graphs and flow charts to help explain what was going on.
Rating: 👽👽👽👽 (4 aliens)

A book you've been meaning to read: We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler. Oh my god. THIS BOOK. I had so many thoughts and feelings about this book, I don't even know how to articulate any of them. That's why I didn't review this book sooner, even though I had all these feelings, more feelings than I've had about a book in a long time. But for you, I will try. To start off, it's important to know that Daniel Handler is one of my favorite authors. He has been for a very time, from childhood to adulthood. I even went to meet him last year, on his book tour that was FOR THIS BOOK. However I didn't read the book until this summer because hardbacks are expensive, sorry. Anyway. So I guess the fact that I didn't love this book almost felt like a betrayal (yes, I'm being dramatic, but stay with me). And it wasn't for a simple reason like I just thought it was mediocre, or that it just wasn't my type (neither was Why We Broke Up, but I appreciated it for what it was). But this book actually made me uncomfortable, and the fact that a book was making me so uncomfortable also made me uncomfortable, because honestly I don't really get emotionally attached to books. By the end I was repulsed with the characters and was happy to be done with them.

So what went wrong? Well first of all, the marketing for this book was completely off. To give you the premise in one sentence - We are Pirates is about Gwen (a 14 year old girl) and some new ragtag "friends" in San Francisco that steal a boat to become pirates. The synopsis on the book flap and everything plays it off as a fun comedy about some people looking for freedom and whatever by causing a bit of mischief in the Bay Area. I thought it sounded like the premise of an Indie flick. So the fact that I excitedly jumped into this book with that sort of expectation is what started things off on the wrong foot. This book gets really dark. It starts off ok but about halfway through things take a very sinister turn, completely throwing you off guard. Gwen is extremely troubled and you're not rooting for her at all. I know we could use the "not all protagonists need to be likeable" argument, but reading along and slowly realizing that Gwen is less of a normal 14 year old and possibly the next Dexter Morgan was...weird (especially because you didn't realize that this is supposed to be that kind of book).

While Gwen is off causing havoc, her parents are trying to find her, obviously. So there are chapters where it switches to her fathers (Phil) point of view. You'd think you'd at least be cheering for her parents, hoping they find their daughter? Nah. To sum up Phil, here's a quote from a review I really liked: "It is quickly revealed that Phil is actually a passive misogynist prick who thinks the world is owed to him and cares very little of his family beyond the happiness/convenience they can supply him." - source. So even though Gwen embodies evil itself, you can't blame her for running away; just everything she does after running away is a completely different thing. Anyway. As always, Daniel Handler is an excellent writer, whether I liked the actual story or not, but overall this book wasn't a win for me :(
Rating: 💬💬💬💬 (Undetermined)

Graphic novel: Marvel Zombies vol. 1 by Robert Kirkman, Sean Phillips. I don't really know what I was expecting when I picked this up. It says ZOMBIES in the title so I knew things would be dreary, but...I don't know. So in this series all our fav super heroes are zombies (they go into how this happened a bit, but the story starts with them already as zombies). Except for the most part they aren't really super heroes anymore? They're entirely aware of what's going on to them - meaning they still know what's right and wrong - yet all they focus on is finding people to eat? And when they can't they (SPOILER haha) start eating each other?! Wasn't into this.
Rating: 👽 (1 hero eating alien)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September Goals / August Check-In

Have you noticed that everyone is posting September goal posts (or things similar)  and all like, "YAY FALL! YAY PUMPKINS!?!" Well, I'd like to be like that too (minus pumpkins, they taste gross) except it's still on the warmer side here in CA. Like, it was 95 degrees today. Oh, well. I'm only bitter because I'm jealous. Anyway, I did ok on my August goals. Not perfect, but ok. I did get other things done though, so I'll take what I can get.

1. Keep up with both Powerpuff Blogger challenges. YES! I'd say I did pretty good, if you don't mind the bragging. The step challenge went well. Playing Pokemon Go really helped, hahah. The bigger challenge was keeping up with 30 Days of Yoga, but in the end I didn't do too terribly with that either. I definitely had some bad days, but I didn't skip a single day and I finished strong. Wahoo! Yoga is so much harder than I thought it was and I have a whole new respect for it now. I'm hoping to write a post on that whole experience soon, but you might have noticed I've been kinda lazy on the blog front (typical).

2. Up my daily step goal to 6,000. No :( I realize now that August was a bad time to make that goal. I did continue meeting my previous goal (5,000) most days, but with the yoga along with going to work and other day to day stuff I was kinda wiped. Even though I'm going to continue doing yoga, I'm not going to be so hellbent on doing it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. so I hope it'll be easier to add more steps in this month.

3. See Suicide Squad. Yes! I wish I had more to say about this, but I kinda...don't. I was really excited to see this movie, and while I didn't dislike it, it was just "ok." I liked individual parts of it more than I liked the movie as a whole.

4. PURGE SOME SHIT (OR JUST GET BETTER AT ORGANIZING). Kinda? I started to? I did purge some things, but not as many as I liked. I didn't feel like digging through boxes hahah. I got rid of a few pieces of clothes that I hadn't worn in over a year, and a small stack of books.

1. Continue doing yoga. I started Yoga with Adriene's other video series, Yoga Camp. I'm not going to follow it as rigidly as 30 Days of Yoga, but I like having the videos laid out for me so I don't have to derp around on youtube looking for what video I want to do that day. I just do the next Yoga Camp video. Ideally I'd like to do it every day, but that isn't going to happen (I already missed one day), but I want to push for at least 3 times a week.

2. Write about books. It's been awhile since I've written any book reviews. I kind of feel bad about this, and I kinda don't. While I'm obviously still reading (and enjoying the things I read) I just don't feel the pull to write an entire blog post on just one book like I used to. They took a lot of time (translating my all over the place thoughts into something appropriate and comprehensible) and I felt like not many people actually read them. However, I do still want to write about books some. I think instead I'm going to try writing mini-reviews again. I've done it before a couple times, so I don't really know why I stopped. Bookworms by Design and Sincerely, Sara use this format and I like it. It's talking about books, but is simple and to the point.

THAT'S IT. I'm going to start working another show in a week, so I'll be pretty busy. But I can manage two goals (or live through the embarrassment if I don't).